Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bottled Water Or Tap?


It requires 3 times as much water to make the bottle as it does to fill it. Which makes it one of, if not THE most exceptionally wasteful industry's on the planet.

People often ask me which bottled water is the best. I wish the answer were as easy to answer as it is to ask. What I have found out is this. The Food and Drug Administration has little authority to regulate bottled brands, according to a U.S. Congressional report released recently. While municipal water utilities are required to provide public reports of test results. Bottled water makers are not. So although you may fork over a pretty penny for bottled water, that doesn't mean it's any better than what's coming out of your faucet. In fact, it could be worse and you'd never know it. Unlike tap water suppliers, bottled water companies don't have to have their water tested by a certified laboratory, and they aren't required to notify customers within 24 hours if they find elevated levels of contaminants. Although the FDA does require bottled water companies to test for contaminants and other problems, says Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., the agency's principal deputy commissioner.


 Now that we've been begging you for years to drink more water. The sad truth is most of us drinking bottled water, really don't know what we are drinking. Usually most people buy whatever is on sale. Thinking all bottled water is the same. Trusting the FDA once again to watch out for us. Are you done laughing yet?


"Vitamins, color, herbs, protein, and all the other additions to water, those are a marketing ploy," says Marion Nestle, Ph.D., professor of nutrition studies at New York University. "The additives are usually a scant serving of the vitamins you really need in a day," claims Amy Subar, Ph.D. Nutritionist with the National Cancer Institute. Enhanced waters usually contain sugars and artificial flavorings to sweeten the deal and can pack more calories than diet soda. Before consuming any food or beverage with herbs and unusual ingredients, read the labels. Some ingredients interact with medications. Others should be avoided during pregnancy. Some also contain as guarana and kola, have caffeine.

 All Vitamin Water drinks are based on vapor distilled, deionized or reverse-osmosis filtered water, which is what is used for another Glaceau product, called Smart Water. The filtered water is combined with corn syrup derived crystalline fructose, citric acid, natural flavors and electrolytes, which are listed as calcium, magnesium and potassium. Vitamins are the most important ingredients in Vitamin Water, and most flavors include vitamins C, B3, B5, B6, B12 and E. On average, Vitamin Water drinks contain 33g of sugar in a 20 oz. bottle, which is equivalent to about 8 tsp. of sugar.


The American consumer is grossly under informed about bottled waters. The International Bottled Water Association provides the following description of different water types on their website:

Spring Water:

Bottled water derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth. Spring water must be collected only at the spring or through a borehole tapping the underground formation feeding the spring. Spring water collected with the use of an external force must be from the same underground stratum as the spring and must have all the physical properties before treatment, and be of the same composition and quality as the water that flows naturally to the surface of the earth

Purified Water:
Water that has been produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or other suitable processes while meeting the definition of purified water in the United States Pharmacopoeia may be labeled as purified bottled water. Other suitable product names for bottled water treated by one of the above processes may include "distilled water" if it is produced by distillation, deionized water" if it is produced by deionization or "reverse osmosis water" if the process used is reverse osmosis.

Mineral Water
:
Bottled water containing not less than 250 parts per million total dissolved solids may be labeled as mineral water. Mineral water is distinguished from other types of bottled water by its constant level and relative proportions of mineral and trace elements at the point of emergence from the source. No minerals can be added to this product.

Sparkling Bottled Water:
Water that after treatment, and possible replacement with carbon dioxide, contains the same amount of carbon dioxide that it had as it emerged from the source. Sparkling bottled waters may be labeled as "sparkling drinking water," "sparkling mineral water," "sparkling spring water," etc.

Artesian Water/Artesian Well Water:

Bottled water from a well that taps a confined aquifer (a water-bearing underground layer of rock or sand) in which the water level stands at some height above the top of the aquifer.

Well Water 

Bottled water from a hole bored, drilled or otherwise constructed in the ground, which taps the water aquifer.
 
As you can see, the differences vary widely. To be fair we must allow each individual to determine what they mean by "good" tasting water, when referring to their favorite bottled water. So let's focus on the issue of health.

There are growing concerns about the leaching of pthalates, known endocrine disrupters, as well as antimony, from water in plastic bottles. Other concerns include bacteria.
We can observe a wide range of variation among different waters. That begs the question from a health perspective what set of physical characteristics is ideal? Common sense says that a pH of 7.4 to 7.6 is ideal. This is the pH of human blood and optimum for drinking water. Some people prefer to drink highly alkaline water, in the range of 8 or 9. Still, some people may enjoy the taste of low pH acidic water. Though some health advocates and practitioners suggest that acidic drinks and foods contribute to increasing the body’s vulnerability to disease and tooth decay.

Additionally there is evidence from a number of studies funded by the World Health Organization (WHO) that people who drink water containing minerals experience lower rates of disease than those who drink water with the minerals removed.
Total dissolved solids, TDS is the sum total of all the minerals in water. While minerals are desirable there is a range of suitability. Since TDS is comprised of a number of substances, high levels will affect the taste of water and may also affect toxicity. Generally, a low TDS is considered by some health practitioners to be more hydrating. EPA has set it’s Maximum Contaminant Level for TDS in drinking water at 500mg / l for aesthetic purposes. Water with a very low TDS, say 30 or less, will have a sharp crisp taste, perhaps considered "clean" by some. A higher TDS, in the range of 150 to 250, provides more "taste". Some people may enjoy the distinct flavor of the mineral waters such as Perrier or Pellegrino. It is the high TDS and high sulfates that contribute to their unique taste. 

Now there's another issue of importance from an environmental perspective. That's the issue of transportation energy. Ideally, consumers should choose water produced locally. It has been said though not confirmed that it takes a quart of oil to import one bottle of Fiji water. That’s a ridiculous waste of energy. A responsible consumer has to consider the transportation costs of using any particular product. Ideally, you'll drink local water. Most public water supplies are of similar quality to bottled water, and are legally monitored. The differences may be quite minor with the notable exception of the presence of chlorine or chloramine and their carcinogenic byproducts. Drinking chlorinated tap water has been linked to increased rates of cancer. However it is relatively inexpensive to remove chlorine as an end user. Simply by a pitcher filter and in line shower filter.

Meeting the annual U.S. demand for plastic bottles requires enough oil to keep 100,000 cars on the road for a year, says Janet Larsen of the Earth Policy Institute. Sure, the 70 million empty water bottles the U.S. produces per day can be recycled, but the sad truth is, about 86 percent of them end up in the trash, in India. Hardly worth it, for what flows out of the tap and into a reusable glass for free.

  • Bottled water costs 240 to 10,000 times more than tap water—on average between $1 to $2 per gallon, with high-end brands going for $5 per gallon
  • The price of one bottle of Evian can pay for 1,000 gallons of tap water
  • Each year across the world, over $100 billion dollars is spent on bottled water
  • In 2006, approximately 17 million barrels of oil were used to produce plastic for the bottled water consumed by Americans, enough energy to fuel more than 1 million cars and light trucks for a year
The cost of transporting bottled water is staggering. Again, just looking at U.S. costs, 1 billion bottles of water are transported per week. The equivalent of 37,800 18-wheelers delivering water.

Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a vast area of the pacific ocean, largely made up of suspended plastic and other floating plastic garbage.. As reported on Wikipedia, recent research sponsored by the National Science Foundation suggests the affected area may be twice the size of Texas and affects the health of at least 267 ocean species worldwide.
Now scientists have confirmed the existence of a giant garbage patch in the Atlantic Ocean as well. The large floating patch of discarded plastic is north of the Caribbean and is a similar in volume to the great Pacific garbage patch.
While the plastic in water bottles is high grade recyclable plastic, 80% of all these bottles end up in landfills here, and underdeveloped countries.

I believe the most sustainable option for healthy drinking water is fill your own chlorine filtering container from the tap, or buy a reverse osmosis filtering system for your home. Since most independent studies on bottled water show contamination from bacteria and / or synthetic chemicals.
It's time to get off the bottle. For yourself, your family and the environment. Good Luck...










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